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Microsoft backtracks on Windows 7 UAC, pretends it was all part of the plan

Sometimes you just gotta laugh. Otherwise, this stuff gets really frustrating.

Here's my beef.

I've complained for a while now that Microsoft has tested Windows 7 in secret, not allowing its tech beta participants, reviewers, and others via the public beta to actually impact the final product in any meaningful way. This is evidenced by the fact that Windows 7 features aren't provided to anyone outside of Microsoft until they are feature-complete and, thus, essentially completed. So all that's left for anyone outside of the inner sanctum to do is find bugs.

Why is this a problem? Because, as it turns out, Microsoft doesn't always have all the answers. And sometimes they make changes that are bad. And even though we outside of the company may have valid complaints, it doesn't matter. That feature you're so concerned about was set in stone months ago. By someone. Somewhere. We don't know how it happens. None of it is transparent.

Which brings us to this week's silliness over User Account Control (UAC).

Here's what happened:

1. Rafael and co. discuss what they feel is a very serious shortcoming in Windows 7's UAC feature.

2. Mary Jo Foley and the Windows blogosphere weigh in, with some wondering aloud whether Windows 7 will be "less secure than Windows Vista."

3. Microsoft tells everyone to back off (twice). Windows 7 UAC works exactly the way they planned it, and they're not changing a thing. They communicated this via a prepared statement. And then again in the Engineering 7 Blog.

4. Microsoft abruptly changes course, says they will change UAC.

But here's the kicker. Microsoft refuses to acknowledge that the complaints about UAC had anything to do with this decision. You see, these changes were planned all along.

LOL. Sure they were.

So here's my take: Not only are Microsoft very serious about not making any changes in Windows 7 after they're locked it down (i.e. handed out to the public in beta form) but now that they've been forced to make such a change, they can't even admit that it's happened.

First, the UAC control panel will run in a high integrity process, which requires elevation. That was already in the works before this discussion and doing this prevents all the mechanics [Rafael discussed in his original complaint] and the like from working.

To summarize, from Microsoft's perspective (paraphrased for your convenience):

Bloggers and testers complained about a very specific issue in Windows 7. We told you it wasn't a problem. But we are fixing that very specific issue. And you had nothing to do with that change.

This is how small children behave.

So is this:

Windows 7 is too much fun and folks are having too much fun for us to be having the dialog we’re having. We hope this post allows us to get back to having fun!

Wow. And here I was thinking that having a dialog about important features in Windows was your fracking job.

By the way, Rafael Rivera has provided me with the following statement in the wake of this mess:

"I'm happy to hear of the changes upcoming in the public Windows 7 Release Candidate build. Regardless of the reasons, the increase in security is a win for all Microsoft Windows users."

Yeah. He's nicer than I am.

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